Plate, knife and fork from the Curtin Collection. Photographed Renee Doropoulos 2010

The family always sat down together for meals. Everyone, including Grandma, had regular seats. The table was set with cloth napkins and serviette rings. During warm weather the double doors opened onto the verandah.

The children were allowed to talk, but reading at the table was forbidden.

In summer there were table grapes from their own vines. The greengrocer delivered fruit and vegetables in season to the backyard wash house, where he left them in boxes for family members to help themselves.

We'd have roast lamb probably over the weekend. Then you'd have cold meat on Monday night with vegetables. Tuesday probably a braise. Wednesday... Oh there'd be fish one day, probably towards the end of the week. Sausages another night I guess, chops, whatever. Usual run of the things, you know, vegies.'[18]
John F Curtin 2004

Elsie made Cornish Pasties. Photo Renee Doropoulos 2010

Elsie made Cornish pasties, and beautiful scones, but food was kept simple. She wrote that John Curtin ‘... didn’t like crumbs around his cutlets or batter around his fish.’ [19]  The family drank a lot of tea [20].

They put a cabinet in [the dining room] ... It contained glasses and cutlery and bits and pieces, you know, cups and saucers. The best ones ... [21
John F Curtin 2004 

After the evening meal the table became a work space. The children used it for their homework and Elsie often sat there until midnight writing letters, managing accounts and cutting items of political interest from the newspapers.

Next: Saying goodbye